• Spain's news in English
 

Ada Colau: Fighting on the home front

Published: 26 Feb 2013 15:32 GMT+01:00
Updated: 27 Feb 2013 09:05 GMT+01:00

So who is Ada Colau?

She’s a 38-year-old civil rights activist from Barcelona who recently called both Spain’s stringent mortgage law, and a renowned banker who praised it, "criminal". She then added, "I would've preferred to have thrown a shoe at him, but chose not to as I had some important things to say today in parliament".

Tell me more about her.
 
Ada has been the public face of the PAH (Platform for those Affected by Mortgages) for the past four years. This social lobby group has stopped around 600 evictions and continues to denounce an evictions regime it claims has caused the suicides of many people.
 
The platform gained momentum and a higher profile from the 15M and Democracia real YA! (Real Democracy NOW!) movements of 2012, which saw hundreds of thousands of Spaniards, if not millions, take to the street in protest against the pitiful state of the economy.
 
But Ada still remained a relatively unknown face in Spain until just recently.
 
So what’s changed?
 
On January 29th her condemnation of the banking community in parliament made her the new voice of the average José on the street. Hundreds of thousands have already watched her eloquent but passionate demolition of the evictions regime on YouTube, and her Twitter following has quadrupled in less than three weeks to more than 36,000.
 
 
Is there anything else she’s famous for?
 
No, there’s more. Ada and the PAH managed to gather 1.4 million signatures for an initiative calling on parliament to amend Spain’s intransigent mortgage law, which not only empowered courts to evict defaulting debtors but also to embargo their assets and future earnings.
 
Colau and her colleagues went to parliament on February 12th to call for legal changes to allow outstanding mortgage debt to be liquidated on surrender of the property.
 
But the PP was having none of it and chose to vote against the initiative on the grounds that it had its own proposals that would make the petition obsolete.
 
That was until Basque MP Uxue Barkos informed the house that a couple in Mallorca had just committed suicide after finding out they were to be evicted.
 
Colau and other PAH activists heckled PP speakers and chanted "¡Sí, se puede!" (Yes, we can!) and "bastards", until they were expelled from the public gallery. The PP speaker in congress Jesus Posadas was then caught on microphone calling out to the ushers: "Fuck, have them thrown out!"
 
 
But during a corruption scandal involving handouts made to many top officials and with the overall reputation of the party in tatters, PP deputies could not really avoid giving Ada Colau a national stage on which to talk about Spain’s housing crisis.
 
What's next for her then?
 
Ada has been hailed by many Spaniards as a modern day heroine who is standing up to a lacklustre government with no sympathy for those being forced out of their homes.
 
There have already been calls for her to enter parliament, but she says “it’s the assembly that will decide my future”.
 
In the meantime, Colau appears adamant about continuing the fight against evictions.

Alex Dunham (alex.dunham@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
The Local list
6 reasons to love Woody Allen's favourite city
Woody Allen statue in Oviedo. Tony Madrid Photography / Flickr

6 reasons to love Woody Allen's favourite city

Woody Allen claims it as his favourite city in Spain, but the northern city of Oviedo remains one of the lesser explored of all the country's regional capitals. Here are six reasons why that should change. READ  

Woody Allen drops in on his favourite Spanish city
The US film director was in Oviedo, Asturias this week. Photo: Rafa Rivas/AFP

Woody Allen drops in on his favourite Spanish city

While the US film director's first love is famously New York City, he chose to holiday this week in his second: the Asturian city of Oviedo. READ  

Catalonia independence movement loses support
Photo: AFP

Catalonia independence movement loses support

Support for an independent Catalonia is waning, according to a new public opinion poll, and only 42 percent would vote "yes" in a referendum on whether to split from Spain. READ  

Costa Brava beaches closed over shark fears
A stock photo of a blue shark, the species spotted on the Costa Brava on Thursday. Photo: Mark Conlin/Wikimedia

Costa Brava beaches closed over shark fears

Police on the Costa Brava were forced to close four beaches on Thursday after sharks were spotted in shallow waters. READ  

Tennis
Nadal doubts future after Wimbledon thrashing
Rafael Nadal crashed out of Wimbledon in a shock second-round defeat. Photo: Patrick Novarik/AFP

Nadal doubts future after Wimbledon thrashing

Spanish tennis ace Rafael Nadal has hinted at retirement after his shock second-round defeat by German 102 seed, Dustin Brown. READ  

Games of Thrones
Game of Thrones add a surprise Spain location
Extras from Game of Thrones during filming last year in Andalusia. Photo: AFP

Game of Thrones add a surprise Spain location

The hit television series have added Navarra as a third location in Spain to their September filming schedule and are looking for tall, slender men and women with a dark complexion to be extras. READ  

Maggie's out as mayor renames Madrid square
Photo: UK in Spain/Flickr

Maggie's out as mayor renames Madrid square

Manuela Carmena, the new left-wing mayor of Madrid, has proposed changing the name of a Madrid square named after the Iron Lady. READ  

Spanish reporter flees Egypt to avoid arrest
Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood top figure, Mohamed el-Beltagy during his trial in May. Photo: Khaled Desouki / AFP

Spanish reporter flees Egypt to avoid arrest

A Spanish journalist said he was forced to flee the country to avoid arrest after writing a book about the Muslim Brotherhood, a claim authorities denied. READ  

Madrid's Plaza Mayor to get a cultural makeover
Madrid's new council are planning a makeover for the city's Plaza Mayor. Photo: Gerard Julien/AFP

Madrid's Plaza Mayor to get a cultural makeover

Madrid's famous main square is to get a makeover, with the city's new left-wing council planning to replace its markets with a host of cultural offerings. READ  

In pics
Spanish royals complete first state visit to Mexico
Spain's King Felipe and Queen Letizia are on their first state visit to the Americas this week. Photo: Hector Guerrero/AFP

Spanish royals complete first state visit to Mexico

Spain's King Felipe and Queen Letizia are in Mexico, on their first state visit to the Americas since he came to the throne just over a year ago. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Travel
What's on in Spain: July 2015
National
The ten most repressive points of Spain's gag law
National
Spain celebrates ten years of gay marriage
Travel
Top ten tricks to survive the Spanish summer
National
Woof! The top ten dog-friendly beaches in Spain
National
Driver fined €80 for biting fingernails at the wheel
National
Castle for sale, one-time pad of mad queen, €15 million
National
And the most beautiful plaza in Spain is...?
Politics
Spanish mayor's rogue little toes go viral
Top that! Italy snatches pizza title from Spain
National
Diphtheria is 'Russian roulette with real bullets'
Bupa
Sponsored Article
Healthcare: 9 questions every expat should ask
Politics
French PM takes flak for taking his kids on state jet to footy final
National
Spain's little 'prince' shamed for racist rant
National
Spain world's second best for work-life balance
Travel
Barcelona most bike-friendly city on the Med
National
British expat fury over EU referendum snub
Politics
Madrid goes mad for radical mayor Manuela
10 super Spanish drinks everyone should try
National
Are these Spain's ten most powerful women?
National
Horse deaths reveal dark side of Rocio pilgrimage
Travel
Six of the best gourmet burger joints in Madrid
Travel
The ten best places for foodies in Barcelona
Education
7 reasons for Spain's newfound love of English
Features
7 reasons why Spain's the best place on earth
National
The perks and quirks of having a baby in Spain
National
Iceland revokes order to 'kill Basques on sight'
National
Five reasons why it’s good to be gay in Spain
National
Job creation? The truth behind Spain's figures
National
Spain among ten best countries to be a mum
National
The ten greatest things about Spain (in the UK)
National
British expats fall victim to NHS clampdown
Features
Top ten: Madrid's best rooftop bars
Travel
Benidorm: Cultural wonder of the world?
National
King Juan Carlos led 'double-life' with lover
Features
Ten best UNESCO world heritage sites in Spain
Features
Happy book day! Top ten Spanish literary gifts
Features
All the fun of the fair: Seville's Feria de Abril
National
Off with her hair! Queen Letizia debuts new do
National
Barcelona bans tourists from famous market
National
Rockers pen 'We don't love Ryanair' ballad
Travel
Location tours start for 'Game of Thrones' fans
National
Top ten things to do in Castellón
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,328
jobs available